Perfect Contrition

“Catholic teaching distinguishes a twofold hatred of sin; one, perfect contrition, rises from the love of God Who has been grievously offended; the other, imperfect contrition, arises principally from some other motives, such as loss of heaven, fear of hell, the heinousness of sin, etc.” Catholic Encyclopedia, “Contrition,” @

Does the desire to avoid hell and enter heaven necessarily render perfect contrition imperfect? Could one be partially motivated by fear/reward, but truly recognize and hate his offense against God’s love? Would this be perfect contrition?

We are humans. Not perfect.

What you gotta understand is that God loves you unconditionally. Fall on your need and say: Jesus, let me KNOW YOU. Let me know Your Love… let me really know YOU.

Worry only about knowing Jesus and His love for you like it really is… That should be your prayer… not worrying about whether you make perfect contrition. not “me” but “You”.

But to adress your question. No… your contrition is not perfect. Hehe… the fact that you think there is any such thing is the fist misconception you have to deal with. There is no human who has perfect love, therefore there is no perfect contrition because true contrition is born out of love… but there is always a lot of things involved in human motives.

Look… think of it as though you are at the 0-level and you walk up a hill infront of you and you know that the higher you get the more beautiful is the view and the more peace you will have inside and the closer you get to the top the more the light of the sun makes evident to your eyes whom is walking next to you… you can see his silhouette at first… then the shades of his tunic and at last you can see the coulour of His eyes and feel the love in that gaze and in that gaze is everything you ever dreamed of.
That hill is love. the sun is the holy spirit. your steps are prayer and silence.

The first step:… the fear of hell is not bad… its good. (think about John the Baptist who said: repent because the kingdom has come close) … next step: you dont want to hurt your self because you love you… This is also good and in God’s will…
Then comes: you dont want to hurt your neighbour because you love her/him… its pleasing and beautiful to God,
… then the higher you go up the hill with Jesus, who is ALREADY-ALWAYS with you the more you are spurred by love… until your love become more and more pure because its His love that becomes your own. Your motive eventually becomes filled with love for Jesus… (You cannot love someone you dont know so you have to get to know Him) and then this will be more and more dominant… the other good reasons will remain but this might become the biggest one one day.

Good contrition starts with humility. :thumbsup:

The Catechism explains perfect and imperfect contrition:

When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called “perfect” (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.51

The contrition called “imperfect” (or “attrition”) is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is born of the consideration of sin’s ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner (contrition of fear). Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior process which, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance.52

I believe according to this, contrition for any reason other than offending God is imperfect. The good news is that sins can be forgiven in the sacrament of Reconciliation even with imperfect contrition.

Thanks for the responses. I do think there is such a thing as perfect contrition. Why would the Church define an empty category? It also seems to play an important role in forgiveness. At no point does it seem thought of as unattainable.

I guess I am unclear as to what we mean when we say contrition for reason X. It seems we can do things for multiple reasons. For example, one may genuinely believe and lament that he has sinned against God’s perfect love, and he may truly intend to reform his life. In addition, he may also fear hell and desire heaven. It seems one may act for both.

For example take this classic act of contrition(found at

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.

Is this perfect or imperfect? It considers both. . .

Thanks in advance for responses!

-As long as your PRIMARY motive for sorrow is knowing you have offended God Who is All Good,you have moral certitude that your contrition is perfect. You can also secondarily be fearful of punishment. Simply being sorrowful for how Jesus suffered for you because of your sins implies perfect contrition…You need to be perfectly contrite—not contritely perfect. It is simply sorrow for offending God’s perfect love for you.

If someone is truly sorry for their sins and their primary reason for this sorrow is because they have offended God then theoretically that would be perfect contrition. However, if someone is in a state of mortal sin how could they be 100% sure they could make an act of perfect contrition. I would not chance it. I would get myself to Confession as quickly as possible. There even if the contrition is not perfect you are at least absolved if you are sincerely sorry.